Home Office urges civil servants to volunteer with the police

Civil servants offered extra leave to volunteer as special constables in drive to sign up officials

Photo: PA

By Richard Johnstone

18 Sep 2019

The Home Office has today called on civil servants to sign up to volunteer as special constables with their local police force after 19 government departments agreed to expand the paid leave available.

Civil servants volunteering as special constables will get up to 12 days' paid special leave a year to spend with their local police force, in a move coordinated by the Home Office. Currently the leave available varies between departments, and can be as little as five days.

The Cabinet Office and the Treasury are among the 19 departments to have signed up, while the Home Office has also provided central guidance to support civil servants who want to become special constables. These voluntary officers have many of the same powers as their regular colleagues, wear the same uniform and, if permitted by their force, drive the same vehicles as full-time police officers.


For the first time, guidance sets out information on how to apply, who is eligible and the types of roles available, and support in one place.

The effort to get civil servants to sign up comes as the department begins its drive to recruit 20,000 more police officers to fulfil a key pledge made by prime minister Boris Johnson, which will reverse cuts made since 2010.

Launching the volunteering initiative, cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill said officials who volunteer “are citizens who serve twice”.

“I hope that colleagues from across the civil service will follow the lead of those from the Home Office who’ve become special constables – warranted police officers who keep their fellow citizens safe – developing their own skills and leadership too.”

Home Office permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam added: “Special constables play a pivotal role in meeting some of our most important priorities: tackling knife crime, safeguarding the vulnerable and keeping the public safe.

“Civil servants who take this opportunity will gain professionally and get an insight into frontline policing, which will be valued across government."

One civil servant who has served as a special constable, Peter Brown of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, said people should not hesitate to “give it a go”.

“I’ve been a special constable for five years and yet every day has been different – from working beats and leading teams to helping manage the deployment of officers.

“Having 19 departments offering this special leave policy to support the work of special constables is a big step forward.”

The Home Office is hosting a Q&A session about life as a special constable on Friday 20 September at its Marsham Street headquarters between 2.15pm and 3pm.

The full list of government departments offering 12 days of paid special leave a year are:

  • Cabinet Office
  • Civil Service Fast Stream
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport
  • Department for Education
  • Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
  • Department for Exiting the European Union
  • Department for International Development
  • Department for International Trade
  • Department of Health and Social Care
  • Department for Transport
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • Foreign Office
  • Government Legal Department
  • Home Office
  • MI5
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
  • Treasury

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